Restaurant : Bale Dutung
Address : Villa Gloria Subdivision, Angeles City, Pampanga
Website : http://www.baledutung.com
A self-taught culinary savant, Claude Tayag is known to have uplifted Pampango/Kapampangan cuisine through Bale Dutung (Wooden House), his abode turned into a by-reservation-only restaurant serving traditional Pampango cuisine he established with his wife Mary Ann Quioc. Bale Dutung reached its stardom when world-renowned chef/writer Anthony Bourdain made it the location of the Philippine episode of his TV show, “No Reservations” in 2008.
Chef Claude was born and raised in Angeles City, Pampanga, to writer Renato Tayag and Adoracion Suarez, both sixth generation Angeleños. Growing up in a large household, he was used to seeing the constant activity his mother did in the kitchen, feeding not only a brood of 12 children, but also their countless cousins and friends. However, his first passion was not cooking but visual arts. As a child, he grew up watching his father’s regular guests, the artists Vicente Manansala, Abe Cruz and Malang Santos, paint in the outdoors of the subdivision his father was then developing.
Tayag took Architecture at the University of the Philippines-Diliman but he wound up with a degree in Economics from UP-Clark in 1978. It wasn’t until 1979 when he backpacked through Europe for a year (on a shoestring budget of US$10/day) that he discovered a certain longing for Filipino food. He foraged through wet markets to find alternative ingredients and soon found himself enjoying cooking as much as he enjoyed painting. In 1983, the Spanish Embassy in Manila offered him a travel grant to Spain where he observed Spanish fiestas and learned to cook Spanish paella which he fused with what will soon become one of Bale Dutung’s specialties.
In 1988, his culinary career unfurled when his friend Larry Cruz, owner of the LJC Group of Restaurants, invited him to be the guest chef at Ang Hang restaurant for two weeks. His passion for Pampango cuisine was intensified when he was invited to be guest chef at the Manila Hotel for a Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner giving him a chance to showcase his interpretation of his hometown’s culinary gems. In 2001, his culinary career soared even higher when he became the first Filipino to do a month’s cooking stint at the Prince Albert Rotisserie of the Intercontinental Manila with French chef Cyrille Soenen.
Spicing up Chef Claude’s culinary career is his passion to preserve the diversity of the Filipino cuisines which he showcased at the Peabody Hotel’s Chez Philippe Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, when he was invited to serve his special selection of Filipino cuisine at the Memphis in May Festival 2012.
Tayag’s unrivalled flair for food, travel, and art led him to pursue another worthy passion – writing. In 2008, he co-authored as well as food-styled Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine, a compilation of Philippine’s best cuisines and culinary practices. Another highlight of his writing career as a chef is his award-winning book Food Tour: A Culinary Journey which serves as a repository of his columns in the Philippine Star, peppered with recipes and his pen-and-ink illustrations. Food Tour won the Best Philippine Culinary Travel Guide in the Madrid-based Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2007.
In collaboration with his wife, Tayag’s third book Linamnam: Eating One’s Way Around the Philippines was launched in 2011. The book contains the couple’s culinary chronicles with recommendations on what food to eat from one Philippine island to the next, highlighting the many travel and culinary centers of the country. Now on its second edition, it has sold more than 16,000 copies to date, becoming a virtual culinary “bible” to countless foodies in search of the proverbial Holy Grail.
To know more about Chef Claude, visit www.claudetayag.net.